Opinion

Davos 2023: World Economic Forum from great reset to great fragmentation

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After more than half a century from the first edition of the World Economic Forum (WEF), namely in 2023, its 53rd edition unfolded and brought together again an important part of the personalities of the political, economic and financial, and media fields and others or, briefly said, the planet鈥檚 plutocracy and its connected sectors.

I recall that if not long ago, at WEF Davos 2020, its founder, Klaus Schwab was preaching 鈥濭reat Reset鈥, this year topic was 鈥淐ooperation in a Fragmented World鈥, thus acknowledging, in part at least, the failure of the 2020 assumptions.

Actually, the gathering took place on the background of developments marked by pessimism among which we mention the decline of global stocks at the end of 2022 by almost 20% while the total loss of the markets amounted to 30 trillion dollars, the greatest decline since 2008. The predictions for 2023 as well are not optimistic as it is assessed a decline of global growth marked by inflation, further markets volatility on the background of conflicts that are not prone to evolve towards a negotiated settlement.

The main topics of the Forum were: the fight against global warming and climate change, the conflict in Ukraine and economic inequalities.

We think that it is becoming more and more obvious that the Davos grouping pursue the achievement of its own agenda for the XXI century, as the topics set forth as noble purposes are hiding in fact other interests.

If we speak of economic inequality, we believe each Davos gathering scored a deepening of inequalities. A case in point is the fact that during April-July 2020 only, the wealth of the world鈥檚 almost 2,200 billionaires increased by 27.5%.

According to Credit Suisse public data, between December 2019 and December 2021, of the newly created 42 trillion dollars in the global economy, 26 trillion dollar (63%) belong to the richest 1% of the world population while the remaining 16 trillion dollar (37%) belong to the remaining 99%. From 1995 until now, the wealth of the richest people in the world increased by 6-9% annually (at least twice compared to the world average growth) with the proviso that in 2020 it was much greater, as mentioned above.

As far as the fight against global warming and climate change are concerned, we express our reluctance regarding the real concern to this effect for which Greta Thumberg was found as an iconic figure. How come that she was chosen as a symbol for a less polluted world?

According to Oxfam research issued on November 8, 2022, the yearly pollution produced by a billionaire is one million time bigger than that produced by a person belonging to the 90% of the poorest people in the world. 

What is hiding the statement that the bovine flatulence causers an important increase in CO2 emissions or the appeal of one of Siemens directors that a billion people give up eating meat (when for sure one billion people in the world do not eat meat while 20 million people are dying yearly of hunger)? What will the European Union succeed in doing if reduces carbon emissions as it proposed when that represents a tiny percentage of the global pollution? We don鈥檛 think it will be an example to follow.

The UN Secretary General Ant贸nio Guterres in his remarks at Davos assessed that 鈥渇rustration and anger over a moral bankrupt financial system in which systemic inequalities are amplifying societal inequalities 鈥 we face the gravest levels of geopolitical division and mistrust in generations鈥.

With regard to the conflict in Ukraine, it is less probable that it will end in 2023, but we hope that conditions could be created so that peace negotiations begin in the second half of the year. Given that war is the successful industry of our time, we should expect that after the Big Pharma profits, the great arms producing corporations claim the gains as well.

The war in Ukraine was triggered by Russia鈥檚 error in judgement with regard to the domestic situation in Ukraine and its bet on a pale reaction of the European Union and the US. The conflict in Ukraine is more than a political conflict, is more than a conflict dominated by economic interests and, at a deeper level it has anthropological dimensions. 

What does the future hold? Klaus Schwab and the elites gathering annually at Davos will continue to pursue their interests until a counterweight at these interests will be created. We see for the time being how the big corporations are subordinating the state through their different structures. We see how the state鈥檚 wealth, natural resources etc. go into possession of corporations owned by a handful of people. Romania is unfortunately an obvious example in this respect. But globalism is no longer so monolithic as it seemed ten years ago. A proof of that is Elon Musk鈥檚 reaction as he was not invited at Davos. Sovereignism seems to be a trend starting to make up ground globally. It is not yet clear how far it will advance.

We should be more concerned about education with a greater emphasis on humanistic studies. The differences between technological progress and social conscience have grown so large that they could trigger cataclysmic events.

Presentation of the author as keynote speaker at international webinar "Post Davos 2023. From the Unipolar World to a Multipolar World?", organized by EURODEFENCE Romania and MEPEI Institute, Thursday, January 26, 2023, attended by a huge international audience from USA to Australia.

General (Rtd) Corneliu Pivariu  

Member of IFIMES Advisory Board and Founder and the former CEO of the INGEPO Consulting 

IFIMES 鈥 International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has Special Consultative status at ECOSOC/UN, New York, since 2018.